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Closing the gulf between Sample Prep and Sample analysis through Automation and Robotics

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Closing the gulf between Sample Prep and Sample analysis through Automation and Robotics

Closing the gulf between Sample Prep and Sample analysis through Automation and Robotics

We live in challenging times. Every day, the tabloids and other media channels are full of worrisome news of our changing environment, caused by humanity with its ever-tightening grasp on our planet. The net result is the ominous and uncertain future of our landscape and our environment. What can we, as corporate citizens, do to help?

We, at Questron, are firm believers that a lot of us doing our little bit can change a lot. For the last 20 years, our little bit has been the quest to update the technological inequality between sample analysis and sample prep. With analysis instruments being supplied as bundles of wonderful capability, sample prep becomes the bad boy of inefficiency – a productivity bottleneck. In fact, many surveys of laboratory managers conducted over the last two decades consistently reveal the same thing. Some 60% of them feel sample prep as a very important step in the overall task of sample analysis, contributing to some 50% of analysis errors, and taking up 67% of the overall sample analysis task time. Compare that with analysis instruments being responsible for only 8% of errors and taking only 6% of the actual analysis time.

So, how do we close this gulf between sample prep and sample analysis? Clearly, sample prepping is labor-intensive, accident-prone, repetitive, and pollution causing. One only has to visit any of the thousands of analytical labs across America and the world to see that the front end of sample analysis consists of people pouring over dangerous chemical reagents, watching samples as they get digested to become aqueous solutions and resultant fumes fill their breathing spaces. Thereafter, these aqueous samples have to be diluted, transferred, filtered, mixed – all with the precision of detecting a grain of sugar in a swimming pool. To be honest, replacing human analysts who do these tasks is no easy feat. Acids and other corrosive reagents in the presence of high heat will turn most robots and electronics with high metal content to dust in no time. And, what artificial intelligence available at this time has the judgment to make the tens of small observations and decisions that go into making a well digested and representative aqueous solution?  So, while automation is the means of taking people out of unpleasant and unsafe conditions, the needed technology required to have this automation, at the right price, is only starting to present itself now.

For the past 20 years, we at Questron have screwed up the tenacity, hard work, intelligence, and focus to face the challenges of automating sample prep tasks for analytical lab applications. In the late nineties, two engineers decided to make a career out of helping local government and private labs with their never-ending dilemmas of Sample Preparation. As collaborative teamwork, we developed products in quickly evolving data processing, material science, and engineering fields. As a means of doing things improved, we made real products to solve real laboratory problems.  And, in order to seek out a large enough base to sell our products, we traveled to faraway places in Canada, and, in time, to outside its borders.

Today, we continue this trend. A group of some 20 professionals works at Questron with the same commitment, vigour, and promise that started in 1998. We are proud to state that we are sample prep specialists with a multi-national presence. Today, our products find home in most countries of the world as we keep making use of emerging scientific knowledge to make improved instruments. Through our collaborators and partners worldwide, we speak your language and provide well-designed instruments that can be sold and supported locally. To see our current product list, please visit our website at Our challenges are a moving target and so are our products.

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